2000-11-07: Edinburgh Besieged
Much has come to light since my interview with the pirate, captured recently in the raid on Yew. I was forced to take a brief detour on my route to Edinburgh to visit an old friend who could more adequately direct my way there, and perhaps provide valuable clues. While there, word came to me that the pirate had been brutally slain, not by his captor the poetic Constable, but by some other means, and means most foul. I was shocked that it could occur while he was held in a supposedly secret place, but knowing what I know now, that there are forces of incredible evil and power involved in this mystery, I am only amazed it did not happen sooner.
My informant told me that another pirate raid had been reported, this time south of Minoc. It followed the same pattern as those that preceded it... brigand pirates led by evil mages came ashore from several ships riding at anchor in the bay. They ransacked houses and buildings all along the coast, including the tents of the gypsy camp. Fortunately, the alarm was raised and numerous brave and able defenders rushed to counterattack the raiders in defense of their town. The raid was halted and the insurgents returned to their ships and fled the area. I, therefore, hurried on to Minoc to gather details of the story. I was fortunate to find one citizen willing to talk who happened to be in the area at the time of the attack, but who demanded to remain anonymous. Of course, I agreed.
"I heard them coming and ducked quickly behind a small tower. The brigands were not acting normal or talking plainly... it was as if they were under some kind of spell, or drugged, but they were not drunk. This one mage kept shouting at them and actually killed one of them! I heard him tell a group of them something like, "To the abyss with you all... we will be done with you soon enough... earn your pay!" One of the brigands, or pirates, said something in reply and I heard the mage say, "Armande has plenty, fear not." They then kicked the door in and went inside the tower. I kept myself hidden until they left."
That was the first time I had a name to go on... some inkling of who might be back of this, and his name is Armande deSade. This name, the Villagers of Edinburgh later confirmed to me, as one who helped lead the attack on their town.
While in Minoc my informant friend met me and told me to proceed at once to Edinburgh Village, which I did post haste. After escaping several brigand ambushes, undeterred, I arrived at the beautiful Village where I met several of its citizens in the now famous mine. I rested after my long trip and later interviewed some of them inside the Town Hall building. They told me of the attack recently on their Village, one that they had prepared for, how they had been warned of it and signaled many groups to aid them in defense of it. It was estimated that between fifty and one hundred defenders took part, and because of that, the defense held. The attack was fierce, the mages were more numerous, and they summoned fire elementals and brought in drakes to assist them. They were nonetheless defeated. Frustrated, and after taking enormous losses for little gain, the pirate Captain and leader of the forces, Caine, along with his consort Ursula, turned their attention to the sudden appearance of two gold elementals named Mudrup and Krag who shambled out of the mine toward them. For some reason they expressed a desire to follow Caine and Ursula, allowing themselves to be taken aboard the pirates' ships, sadly, for a journey to their doom... a blacksmith's forge in Serpent's Hold. Tricked by Caine into entering it they were both destroyed, smelted, and many thousands of gold ingots were gathered from their remains. I was greatly saddened to hear of their demise, for I have never seen a sentient elemental, and I truly longed to speak with one of them. It convinced me too, not that I needed any, that the evil behind this scheme is utterly ruthless in nature and cares nothing for life.
I learned from speaking to the Villagers that they believe some kind of dire evil exists in the mine, sealed in, perhaps, by the gold vein, which, since the appearance of the elementals, has dwindled considerably in size. I touched the vein myself and nothing happened. However, as I dismounted my horse, Andar, to do so, I was shocked to see Andar's fear and nervousness. Andar has never flinched from anything I have faced in my journeys with him, including Britannia's most hideous abominations, Liche Lords. What could be more desperately and frightfully evil than that I cannot, and do not wish to, fathom.
I will remain in the area as long as I may, to continue my observations. Like many, I have been drawn into this dark enigma, and will not rest until I know its secrets. ~ Erik